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Mindful Bytes: Activity

More camping and time off over the last couple weeks. Had no idea how beautiful Lake Huron is. Back into the swing of normal life and happy to be writing again.

Activity. Not something I post about a lot but something I get asked about a lot.

Truthfully? Of the 150lbs I’ve lost, almost all of it was lost with no activity (120ish pounds) and the rest was mostly walking with running happening after I hit my goal weight. Activity is a big part of my lifestyle, but not a big factor in my weight loss if that makes sense.

And that’s obviously a massive change compared to the 1,000+ other attempts to get healthy over the last 30+ years.

Activity questions I get are mostly from men when they see my weight loss.

“Dude, what kind of workouts are you doing??”

My weight loss and my activity are almost entirely unrelated. Sure, if I’ve eaten more than I want to I’ll try and get some extra activity in, but that’s mostly out of habit. I’ve worked hard to decouple the mindset that links weight loss and activity.

Activity used to be 85% about food. What I already ate or what I was going to eat was the determining factor in how much activity I got. If I worked out a lot in a week, I earned a treat. If I ate too much, had to sweat those pounds off. A big food week coming up? Better get in a lot of cardio before hand.

Activity was permission or punishment for eating. And that became a very unhealthy mindset, because at the best of times I don’t need any help coming up with excuses to eat. So that link between activity and weight loss was downright toxic for me. So much so that when I rejoined WW in September 2018 I remember being furious that I couldn’t eat my activity points like I could on the old program. My unedited thought process was “jeez, why workout at all then??”

The answer is, it makes my life so much better! That’s why! And the “better” has nothing to do with the scale.

First off, activity immerses me in a culture of health/wellness. When I eat well and work out I feel amazing (not right away, but commutatively the impact becomes huge). Activity motivates me to stay in a healthy lifestyle and skip those indulgent moments that can send me down a different path.

Exercise is the most effective counter to anxiety that I’ve found in my adult life. Anxiety is something I’ve suffered from significantly for almost 15 years. It can be debilitating. Completely. I can actually feel it creep into my life correlating exactly to when I’m not getting enough exercise. Exercise and sleep are my anxiety meds and they’re unbelievably effective.

Most of my writing ideas comes from my long cardio excursions. I still walk more than I run and I craft all kinds of concepts and angles in my head when I’m pounding pavement in any weather. I’ve created the term “purpose walk”. Instead of walking for pure exercise, I’ll pick an errand and walk there (a walk that has purpose). I walk to a local farm that sells corn (round trip is 12 km) to buy farm fresh corn on the weekend. Knocking off an errand, a workout, and developing a few topics to post about all at the same time is an amazing feeling for me.

Then there’s just the pure pride of activity. I think it makes me look better in a mirror. I just feel athletic when I’m wiped out from a workout. I’m one of those weird guys who loves to sweat when I work out. It’s like negative emotions just leave my body with the sweat. There was recently a promo at Orange Theory where I could do a class for free with Hedy (she’s a member). After it was over I got my assessment from the coach/PT. Her first comment was “so you’re clearly a runner…..”. I can’t tell you the amount of pride I felt being a formerly 361lbs guy and now being called “a runner” by another human, let alone a personal trainer (I don't even care that she was trying to sell a membership, I’ll take the compliment regardless!!).

There are so many reasons why activity is important for a healthy lifestyle. I had spent decades misusing activity and probably making a healthy lifestyle harder by treating exercise like permission or punishment for what I did at the plate. It’s such a narrow simplistic view for what activity can be. I’m almost 50. I would annihilate 30-yr-old-me in any activity I can think of other than pizza eating. It’s never too late. You don’t need expensive equipment or a gym membership to get healthy. Just a pair of quality running shoes and some discipline to turn activity into a habit instead of a reaction to what you eat. Activity has improved every aspect of my life, and I’ll never stop being amazed that “the scale” really isn’t on that list anymore. ☺️

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